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New Bagram hospital offers state-of-art care

by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
Regional Command-East Public Affairs Office

3/9/2007 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- In 2006, Army Staff Sgt. Heathe Craig was holding on desperately to a patient as the two were hoisted from a ridgeline by a Blackhawk helicopter. Halfway to the chopper, the line snapped. Sergeant Craig and his patient fell to their deaths. 

The Craig Joint-Theater Hospital, named for the heroic medic of the 159th Medical Company, 10th Mountain Division, opened for business March 4, offering Task Force Med patients a whole new level of care and doctors a new level of technology with which to work. 

"We're officially open over there," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Claude Hawkins, CJTH medical chief of staff. "Our emergency room stood up at 6 o'clock, so that's where we're now taking emergency patients." 

The new hospital is the most advanced in the area of operations and features a four-bed trauma bay, three operating rooms and a state of the art dental clinic. 

"The new Craig Joint Theater Hospital is a state of the art hospital that rivals any stateside hospital of equivalent size," said Col. Bart Iddins, TF Med commander. "The new facility meets all current requirements but leaves room for expansion as needed." 

The biggest advantage the new facility offers is its cleanliness.
"It's a cleaner environment, more sterile," Colonel Hawkins said. 

Major (Dr.) Clifford Perez, TF Med general surgeon, said the cleaner, more sterile environment will be of great help after surgeries. 

"We seldom closed our wounds immediately," he said of surgeries at the old hospital. "We used a lot of new techniques in wound care, and U.S. Soldiers were sent out to other facilities when the chance of infection was increased." 

The new hospital also has more room for patients, sporting nearly 50 bed, twice as many as in the old hospital. 

First lieutenant Karis Russell, TF Med nurse, said the new equipment is a great help.
"As a nurse, the extra space is good," she said. "We also have more monitors and oxygen for every bed." 

"The new facility is equipped with the most advanced medical equipment and medical technology that is currently available. It is truly first rate," Iddins said. 

"It feels like a hospital that's stateside," Major Perez said. "I was very excited to come and work here. We have a lot more capability." 

As happy as she is to work at the new hospital, Lieutenant Russell said she has happy memories of working at the old one. 

"There are some things I'll miss," she said. "Being able to go outdoors with the patients so easily. It's very healing." 

Iddins said while having new equipment is nice, it is the people that make the real difference. 

"It is the dedication, knowledge and skills of its staff that makes Craig Joint Theater Hospital a premier world-class medical organization," he said. "The new hospital clearly represents the United States of America's continuing commitment to provide only the finest medical care for its servicemembers and Coalition partners."

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